Illuminated by LED lights and dressed in costumes, a mass of cyclists can be seen parading through the streets of downtown Bellingham on the first Thursday of every month. The occasion? Bellingham Bike Night, a community event aimed at celebrating the fun of being on two wheels.
The creators of the monthly event, Maggie Kaiserman and Dario DiGiulio, both moved to Bellingham from San Luis Obispo, California. Both attended a similar event back in California and wanted to bring the fun to Bellingham.
“[It’s] goofy, fun, a little chaotic,” Kaiserman said. “No one knows where we’re going. No one knows when it’s ending. No one knows what’s going on at any point, and that’s just the fun of it.”
Each ride has a specific theme. Prior themes have included: under the sea, denim prom, pride, capes and more. Lights and helmets are encouraged, as well as any other non-motorized form of transportation with the exception of electronic bikes or Onewheels.
“A lot of group rides end up being these little echo chambers of ‘Oh, these are my friends and my friends’ friends, and that’s it,” DiGiulio said. “Our goal is more [to] get everyone in the community out at once, to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet.”
Bellingham Bike Night started in June 2021 and hasn’t seen a month off since. A group of around 70 riders can be expected on any given bike night, and Kaiserman and DiGiulio expect to see those numbers grow.
“You feel like the dominant force on the streets for one time a month,” DiGiulio said. “There’s a beauty to that.”
Critical mass cycling events have become more popular across the United States and the globe, according to Gabriel Shahrouzi, the facilitator of the Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride in Boulder, Colorado.
“These rides are emerging all over the world, and I love that I can find them, and they can find us, and we can be a source of inspiration for each other,” Shahrouzi said. “People are hungry for togetherness, for community and for culture, to get outside, to be somewhere besides their home or at work.”
Bike Night also aims to create a community cycling event that does not revolve around mountain biking, an activity Bellingham is known for.
“It’s cool to have a casual, not so mountain biking-focused event in town where anyone can show up on anything with two wheels,” said fourth-year Western Washington University student Simon Patamia, who’s attended Bike Nights in the past. “It was construction-wear themed, so there was a whole bunch of us in hard hats and high-vis gear riding down State Street and taking over the roundabout.”
The next ride will be on March 2 starting at 7 p.m. and is Medieval-Madness themed. More details can be found on the Bellingham Bike Night Instagram.
“We want everyone in Bellingham to stop what they’re doing and get on their bike,” DiGiulio said. “I think just about every big city in the U.S. at this point has some sort of critical mass [bike event]. We’re trying to do it in the most fun, respectful way.”
Tarn Bregman (he/him) is a fourth-year environmental studies major who has also worked as a reporter and photographer for The Planet magazine. In his free time, Tarn can be found on Galbraith Mountain riding his mountain bike or hanging out at Bellingham skatepark. Tarn hopes to bring The Front’s coverage to niche sports and recreational activities locally and across the county.